Visualize a dusty place where stream beds are sand and lakes are flats of dried mud. Are we on Mars? In fact, we're on arid parts of Earth, a planet where water covers some 70 percent of the surface.
How long will water be readily available to nourish life here?
Scientists funded by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) program are finding new answers.
NSF-supported CNH researchers will address water resources management and policy in a changing world at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), held in San Francisco from Dec. 3-7, 2012.
In the United States, more than 36 states face water shortages. Other parts of the world are faring no better.
What are the causes? Do the reasons lie in climate change, population growth or still other factors?
Among the topics to be covered at AGU are sociohydrology, patterns in coupled human-water resource systems and the resilience of coupled natural and human systems to global change.
Researchers will report, for example, that human population growth in the Andes outweighs climate change as the culprit in the region's dwindling water supplies. Does the finding apply in other places, and perhaps around the globe?
Scientists presenting results are affiliated with CHANS-Net, an international network of researchers who study coupled natural and human systems.
NSF's CNH program supports CHANS-Net, with coordination from the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability at Michigan State University.
CHANS-Net facilitates communication and collaboration among scientists, engineers and educators striving to find sustainable solutions that benefit the environment while enabling people to thrive.
"For more than a decade, NSF's CNH program has supported projects that explore the complex ways people and natural systems interact with each other," says Tom Baerwald
|Contact: Cheryl Dybas|
National Science Foundation